What to say

Sometimes I can take my own challenges – the fact that I haven’t worked in many months, that I’m terrified about the future of my industry, that I’m constantly anxious about my livelihood – and find some universal message of resilience to write about. Sometimes I can’t even begin to deal with my own feelings, much less share them in a way that’s understandable to anyone but myself.

Today is one of those days where I just can’t find the point to doing anything, where I descend into a level of both existential doubt and hopelessness that defies even the best of my mitigation efforts. And I don’t want to talk about it, because it’s exhausting, because it brings tremendous grief to the surface, because examining emotions is hard work, because I’m afraid if a explain myself I’ll be rejected.

Today is one of those days when I don’t know what to say.

Rough seas

I know that many of you know exactly what I’m talking about, because you’ve dealt with your own depression. And it is you who I think about on days like today. Because there is a commonality of experience that so many of us share, a travail that we understand. Because there are others who struggle. Because there are others who hurt.

When I am too exhausted, too defeated, too depressed to want to do or say anything, the best I can do is to turn those feelings outward instead of inward, to feel empathy for the sorrow of others.

Part of the reason I started this blog was to give myself a space to examine my own mind and my own emotions as the pandemic irrevocably changed life as we knew it. The other part was to be able to create a space where others could reflect on their own feelings, a platform to share words that gave expression to the emotional states of others, a way to let others know that they are understood. And the thought that I may have provided even a moment of comfort or companionship for someone else – I’ll take that as the most important thing I can do

So that’s all I have for you today. The seas feel dark and rough for me today, but it comforts me that there are so many of us in this boat, together. It gives me a small strength, and I hope it does so for you too.

12 thoughts on “What to say

  1. Angie Eborn says:

    There’s a lot of uncertainty in the world–a lot of worry, a lot of grief. I think at such times we have to come together to lift each other up–as we were meant to do all along. There’s hard work ahead–coping, adapting, reaching out (while stuck at home social distancing), helping others withstand and recover from the effects of physical, mental and financial devastation. It is a challenge, but it is also an opportunity to serve in more meaningful ways, to learn to live more simply, and to take purposeful steps to better ourselves and our world.

    I too got out of bed this morning feeling unable to cope with life, and immediately felt comforted by the Spirit. I’m not out of work yet but the likelihood is high that I will be sometime in the next 2-5 years. I get off work and I’m exhausted; I look around at everything that needs to be done and I feel paralyzed and overwhelmed. I think about the future and I don’t know how or if I’m going to make it. I want you to know that you are precious, that you are important, that you are loved, and that at least one person read the words you wrote today. I want you to know that you have a lot to give, and that people need the gifts that only you can give them. The world needs you. Rise up and shine in it, as you were meant to do.


  2. Wayne Zelenak says:

    Sarah, I am so glad that you have started this blog to share your most intimate feelings with virtual strangers like myself and others. The topic of anxiety, fear, and uncertainty are constant in me and others but I manage to keep busy with my family and projects around the house. Both of my neighbors have lost their husbands recently, not from COVID 19 but natural causes. They live in large houses and share visits and now started bike riding again, to ride on a bike path along the Delaware River. They don’t have pets to share and the house can be a lonely place, especially at night when alone.

    By your words over the last few months, I have determined that you are a very compassionate individual who harbors a bevy of emotions exacerbated by this global pandemic that has touched every household and family causing bizarre behavior that defies prudence, care, and logic. I’ve learned to take a day at a time and only address only the issues of that day. It doesn’t mitigate the existing problem but allows a relief valve to cope.

    You mentioned that when you descend to a level to explain yourself, you’ll be rejected. That notion is simply not true. In the past, when I sought counsel for emotional problems borne by a life-altering event, every problem was exaggerated tenfold and words couldn’t mitigate my feelings but my understanding helped. Thinking back, my problems were small compared to the world of events facing us now.

    We are all caught in the storm of dark skies and rough seas and need to share our compassion, understanding, and support for each other. Before you started your blog, we were total strangers and now with our shared stories, we have formed a virtual friendship of hope, until the weather clears. Some of the best friendships were formed in the worst of times. I hope one day we can finally meet in person and I hope you feel the same way.



  3. Maybe this year is about all of us losing ourselves. Right now, I feel both invisible and irrelevant, even in my most visible identity as a teacher of the cello. Maybe it’s not as simple and superficial as losing our work to a pandemic. I think we are being called, if you will, to see everything from a different perspective. Maybe this year we learn to fall in love with our own warmth, our own kindness, our own compassion. Maybe we learn to give back to ourselves in ways that allow healing and help us get unstuck in the midst of being stuck. There are myriad reasons why this time is so anxiety producing and so challenging, as you have so eloquently expressed.
    For myself, I am attempting to use this time to stop struggling and to accept and redefine who I am. Instead of fighting against my demons and my despair, I am learning to embrace it as a necessary step on the path of my own growth. Sharing stories is one way to do that with love and grace and compassion. When we allow each other to feel pain and to hold a space for its expression, we deepen as human beings. When we emerge from this season, just think of the richness of our music making.


  4. Rev. Ann Fenlason says:

    Thank you for sharing with us this part of yourself, Sarah–my heart aches for you and can relate to what you have written. I am holding you in prayer for strength, comfort and peace.


  5. Graeme says:

    All I can offer, as I have before here I believe, is what I say to myself when the black dog bites……
    This too will pass.🙏


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